Firesign Theatre’s 40th Anniversary

From the press release:

NOVEMBER 17, 2006;

LOS ANGELES, CA (November 13, 2006): Legendary comic foursome The Firesign Theatre, creators of over thirty LPs and CDs including such classics as Don’t Crush That Dwarf, Hand Me the Pliers, a 2005 inductee into the Library of Congress’ National Recording Registry, celebrates their 40th anniversary on November 17, 2006.

Founding members Philip Austin, Peter Bergman, David Ossman, and Philip Proctor were a group of aspiring actors/writers when they met at the studios of Pacifica Network station KPFK-FM in Los Angeles in 1966. In the decade that followed, they wrote and performed thirteen albums for Columbia Records, full of dialogue that has become part of the national lexicon, with titles such as How Can You Be In Two Places At Once When You’re Not Anywhere At All, Everything You Know Is Wrong, and I Think We’re All Bozos On This Bus.

Firesign celebrates its Ruby anniversary on the occasion of the 40th anniversary of their first performance, as guests on Peter Bergman’s pioneering talk show “Radio Free Oz” on KPFK. On nights when he had no guest, Bergman would invite some of his more subversive colleagues to come on the air and pretend to be a variety of interesting guests. On the night of November 17, 1966, Bergman invited three friends – Philip Austin, the show’s producer; David Ossman, the station’s former dramatic director; and Philip Proctor, an actor – to join him as the four of them pretended to be the panel of an imaginary “Oz Film Festival”. Bergman played film critic Peter Volta, who was writing a history of world cinema one frame at a time. Ossman played Raul Saez, maker of short but exciting “thrown camera” films, who had just won a grant to shoot a movie by rolling a 70mm camera down the Andes. Austin played Jack Love, son of a leatherworker, who was making movies for the Living Room Theatre like The Nun and Blondie Pays the Rent. And Phil Proctor played Jean-Claude Jean-Claude, creator of the Nouvelle Nouvelle Vague Vague movement and director of the documentary Two Weeks With Fred, which took two weeks to watch.

You can get Firesign CDs from the Lodestone online catalog. If you have never heard them, I’d suggest starting with Don’t Crush that Dwarf, Hand Me the Pliers or I Think We’re All Bozos on This Bus. And you have to hear Everything You Know Is Wrong! But they’re all worth hearing. Psychedelic comedy at its finest!

Over the last few years the Firesigns have recorded and performed again, and some of that work is pretty good, too. Give Me Immortality or Give Me Death! takes place in a radio station on the eve of the Millennium, and the station appears to change format several times per hour. The Bride of Firesign reunites many characters from the entire canon, and it’s brilliant.

One Response to “Firesign Theatre’s 40th Anniversary”

  1. ernie oertle23 says:

    What? No comments! Why, that’s an outrage! I myself am still working on `Learning Three Words in Turkish’!

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